Psychological Ergogenic Aids

For many athletes, psychological aids are as important as physiological ones. A plethora of psychological techniques are used to help athletes overcome the limitations of their body to excel – and here are a few of them:


A psychological technique as old as the hills, cheering on an athlete or a team makes them feel appreciated and supported, and encourages them to try harder to please their supporters.


Also known as mental or autogenic training, hypnosis has a long history of use by international athletes and sportsmen, and can help reinforce self-belief and positive thinking, focus the athlete on success, and overcome mental blocks.


The use of imagery as a training technique includes seeing yourself winning an event, or imagining yourself mastering challenging situations: coming up from behind to win a race, for example. “Cognitive specific” imagery involves seeing yourself perform specific skills, such as a tennis serve, to help you learn it.


Athletes enjoy listening to music when they are training, to aid relaxation, and to help them get into a workout rhythm. Fast-paced music may also encourage them to speed up the pace of exercise.


Psychological techniques are often used to help athletes counter the stress of competition, to help them to relax and focus. Many techniques are based on the four “C”s – concentration, confidence, control and commitment.


Techniques for physical relaxation are useful to promote recovery after training or competition, remove stress-related muscular tension, and establish a more receptive and positive physical and mental state. Techniques include breathing exercises and visualisation.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi works every muscle, joint and organ of the body, using smooth, balanced movements, and can increase the body’s power and efficiency, as well as aiding relaxation.